MANILA, Philippines -- Phoenix Super LPG head coach Topex Robinson is reluctant to include his team among the PBA's elite, even after a series of offseason moves that bolstered their already-promising lineup.
In the past month, the Fuel Masters shook up a roster that made it to the semifinals of the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup. They traded All-PBA forward Calvin Abueva to Magnolia in exchange for combo guard Chris Banchero, then acquired Vic Manuel from the Alaska Aces.
The newcomers join a roster that already includes Matthew Wright, one of the league's top shooters, promising young forward Jason Perkins, and Justin Chua, who led the PBA in blocked shots last conference.
Still, Robinson was quick to stress that there is no certainty they can break into the upper echelon of the league.
"Obviously, we're not on the top tier of the teams if you're gonna look at it," he said.
"But having those kinds of guys and going to battle with that lineup right now that we have will give us, I guess, a fair chance to compete with the best teams," he explained.
Robinson, who is entering his second season as head coach of the Fuel Masters, considers defending All-Filipino champion Barangay Ginebra and perennial contenders San Miguel and Talk 'N Text as the "barometer" of the PBA. He is also looking at teams like Meralco and Rain or Shine, both of which regularly make the playoffs.
For the young coach, they want to see what these teams are doing and hope to duplicate their success.
"It's not bad to copy their styles," Robinson said. "So, we're finding that formula. Obviously, innovating is one, which requires failure."
"So we're gonna make mistakes, I'm gonna make mistakes, but ang sa amin kasi, obviously we love the challenge of being ranked at the top," he added. "Dito naman siyempre, you're always here to compete eh. You know, you wanna find ways to win."
Robinson acknowledged that the roster moves they made in the offseason may be risky, and there is no certainty that it will work out the way they hope.
However, the coach said they cannot rest on their laurels either. Phoenix Super LPG surprised many with their run to the semifinals in the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup, but Robinson knows that other teams will treat them differently in the coming conference.
"It's a challenge for us, but it's exciting. It's always gonna be exciting," he said.
"I don't wanna always worry about the things na hindi ko kontrolado eh. What we have control of is how we're gonna improve, and having Vic and Chris, and hopefully that No. 7 (draft pick) will give us a better chance," he added.